Today we talk about playing with makeup. I used to be very cautious with makeup, carefully following the "rules" laid down by ladymags about how to highlight, sculpt, and conceal various aspects of my face in order to conform to some sort of weird idealized way I was "supposed" to look. I didn't wear black mascara or eyeliner because I was blonde*. I was well into my early twenties before I owned my first eyeliner (now I have at least a dozen in all four formats). I avoided dark lipsticks because I was "too pale" to wear them, and I believe I even at one point purchased a subtle bronzer (which looked just as absurd as you may be imagining). I was, in short, trying to look as much as some sort of median level of generic ladymag prettiness as I could manage. This was not, it should be noted, in order to be attractive, but in order to be as invisible as humanly possible. As a teen I was not a goth, not out of any lack of dark romanticism or wry sarcasm (I had both in spades), but because I was desperately hoping no one would notice me. I am not sure exactly why. I was never outright bullied, having a pair of seven-foot-tall brothers, one of whom is fairly protective, heavily muscled, and an occasional guest of various state correctional facilities will do that, I promise. I was just desperately insecure. I went off to college, got more into feminism and fat acceptance, and received a serious request to be someone's nude model. I gradually became more confident, to the point that now, while I may be introverted and somewhat socially awkward, I am also fully confident of being pretty awesome and thus willing to be highly visible in public. After an awkward college folk music and birkenstocks phase, this encroaching confidence was matched with increasing experimentation in dress, but it is really only quite recently that I have begun stepping outside a fairly narrow range of makeup looks. I started with more extreme lipstick and eyeliner and have only very, very recently branched out into more experimental usages of eyeshadow.
The best tools in my new eyeshadow journey have been the book Eye Candy and the ridiculously cheap and highly pigmented 120 shade palette I bought from Shany cosmetics. Naturally, one doesn't expect much from a 20$ palette of 120 shades, but this is actually some of the most highly pigmented eyeshadow I own, which compares favorably in pigmentation to Makeup Forever, MAC (although throwing yourself at the mercy of the fabulous queens at the MAC counter is still one of the most fun times you can have with makeup), or L'Oreal HIP. it doesn't last much on it's own, but with Urban Decay Primer Potion (whose praises I will never cease singing) it stays where you put it until you take it off. The colors are beautiful and they blend well.
Some are quite "runway" and perhaps not useful for many readers, but I suggest you can still learn a lot by playing with them. These looks often boast the most interesting techniques and novel color usage.
Most qualify as wearable but dramatic
probably about a third fairly casual and easy to wear
Even if you don't find a lot of looks that you wish to wear frequently, I still think going through and playing with most of them will provide a solid education in the ways and means of eyeshadow
*In case you were ever wondering what my natural hair color really is, I believe it is still a dark honey-blonde but it hasn't been seen, except briefly earlier this year when it was not given enough time to grow out enough to be sure, in nearly a decade since I turned 16 and was allowed to first dye my hair.
All the pictures in this post are looks from Eye Candy made with Shany eyeshadow (in case that wasn't obvious).
PS: You'll notice I changed the theme. I wanted something a bit darker as I have been tilting more towards goth than lolita, but not too dark to read (an occasional problem in the goth-o-sphere), and purple is my favorite color.